Forgiveness is four fold.

1. We are required to be willing to forgive as Christ forgave. He forgives all those who ask. This is our responsibility.
2. The responsibility of the offender is to acknowledge his sin.
3. The offender is also required to pay restitution/make it right.
4. Restoration happens when 1-3 are done completely and correctly.

Without all three, forgiveness isn’t complete. I can do my part and still maintain the blessing of God on my life (peace, contentment, closure, etc). That is all that is required of us. If the offender doesn’t do his two parts, he will not experience God’s blessing or victory in that area (of offense). That’s partly why we see Christians today not experiencing blessing or growth in their lives – they stay nominal or shallow in their Christian walk.

Proof Texts:


Christ said to forgive as He forgives. He forgives all who asks. So, I’m using His example of forgiveness to show the steps of reconciliation.

Col 3:13 “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

1) If we have been offended (sinned against) in some way, we are to be willing to forgive all who ask. Our part is willingness. If you want to, add to your responsibility that fact that you are supposed to rebuke them. We need to let that person know that we have been sinned against, for others don’t always know it when they offend. It makes sense to let them know so they can make it right. Use wisdom as you do this. There may be times that you should not confront a person. If the person is out of our life, it is possible for us to be willing to forgive that person even if they are not available. Remember our part is willingness and is not based on the other person.

2) For it to be complete for the offender, he needs to ask forgiveness to maintain God’s hand of blessing on his life.

Ps 86:5 “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

Lu 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Eze 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

Lu 17:4 “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”

Ac 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Ac 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

3) If a person doesn’t ask forgiveness (repent of the sin against you) or pay restitution/change actions/attitude/tell the truth/make it right, etc. they will be stymied in their Christian life and will not be able to be reconciled to the one he offended.

Mt 5:24 “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

2 Cor 5:18 “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Definition of repentance: to see the sin and turn from it

Reconciliation: the ending of conflict or renewing of a friendly relationship between disputing people

There will be times that someone doesn’t/can’t come to ask forgiveness. This doesn’t mean we cannot have the peace God offers. We just need to be willing to forgive them. I’ve had many people hurt me that never “saw the light.” But I’ve been able to put it behind me because I decided I would be willing to forgive if they asked. I’ve done my part. I am willing. We need to be careful not to hold bitterness or a grudge against that person. Reconciliation takes both participants, though we can have a right heart attitude without the other person’s participation.

Christ didn’t forgive the whole world. He forgives only those who come to Him. He is WILLING to forgive the whole world, one at a time, “not WILLING that any should perish,” but we must come to Him of our own free will. He’s done His part, but we need to do ours – accept His atonement and be reconciled to Him. It’s nothing we do, but we need to accept His free gift through repentance – a change in direction.

Salvation is for all, but not all accept the free gift.

If I buy gifts for all of my kids, but one refuses my gift because it’s not the right color, size, style, whatever, then it doesn’t become theirs. I was willing to give it; I offered it but was not able to give it to them for they wouldn’t accept it. He paid the penalty for all, died for the sins of all, but has not forgiven all until they ask. Otherwise we’d not have to ask Him to forgive us.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

At our confession (acknowledgment of sin and request of forgiveness of those sins, turning away from that sin) is when forgiveness is imparted. He died for the whole world, but will grant forgiveness on an individual basis to all those who ask. I am so glad Christ died for my sin. They are many and great. To know that he forgives is way more than I deserve. When I repented and asked Him to forgive me, He forgave my past, present, and future sin, clothing me in His righteousness, making me His child.

Often people struggle to forgive others because they think it puts a stamp of approval on the sin – that they’re saying, “It’s OK what you did to me.” True forgiveness doesn’t say that. It’s says, “You sinned against me, but if you are willing to acknowledge it and make it right, our relationship can be restored.” Be willing, it’s what Christ expects.